The Department of Civil Rights-Equal Opportunities Division is seeking nominations for the 19th Annual Reverend James C. Wright Human Rights Award.
The award is given to an individual who best exemplifies civil rights pioneer Rev. Wright’s dedication and compassion for civil and human rights and conducts their daily life consistent with these values. The award honors the late Reverend James C. Wright who served as executive director of the Equal Opportunities Commission from its inception in 1968 until his retirement in 1992.
“We’re looking for somebody who exemplifies the character and the diligence that Rev. James C. Wright had in terms of civil and human rights,” Annie Weatherby-Hayes, of the City of Madison Department of Civil Rights, tells Madison365. “He was somebody who was instrumental in equal opportunities and affirmative action laws that were established here in the City of Madison. There are many people who benefit today from the work that Rev. Wright did.”
Rev. Wright worked during the 1960s to bring about the adoption of the City of Madison’s Equal Opportunities Ordinance. Wright served as a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission prior to his appointment as executive director for the Equal Opportunities Commission. During his years with the City, he spearheaded the drafting of the City’s first affirmative action ordinance and developed a complaint resolution process for the Equal Opportunities Commission that provided a make-whole remedy for victims of discrimination. Under his leadership, the Equal Opportunities Ordinance was recognized as one of the most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation in the country.
“Rev. Wright was a gentle spirit,” Weatherby-Hayes says. “He was very smart and very strategic and he inspired so many people. We’re not looking for another Rev. Wright but somebody who exemplified his spirit and who is dedicated to the community.”
Rev. Wright Award recipients may be an adult, youth, or organization in the Madison metropolitan area whose work has impacted the City of Madison. They must be or have been actively involved in providing leadership in grassroots-type efforts that are related to civil or human rights. Award nominees must have demonstrated a long-term commitment to civil or human rights in the Madison community or elsewhere as well as a commitment and dedication to treating people with respect and dignity.
Past Rev. Wright Award recipients include: Jacqueline Wright, 1996; Dr. Richard H. Harris, 1997; Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, 1998; Helen Vukelich, 1999; Anthony “Nino” Amato, 2000; John Noreika Sr., 2001; Dr. John Y. Odom, 2002; Peter Muñoz, 2003; Earnestine Moss, 2004; Jon Gramling, 2005; Agnes Gutierrez Cammer, 2006; Jeffery Erlanger, 2007; Dr. Richard Davis, 2008; Darlene Hancock, 2009; Alfonso Studesville, 2010; Richard V. Brown Sr. in 2011; and Colleen Butler in 2012, Charlie Daniel in 2013, Dr. Floyd Rose in 2014 and Anthony Timmons in 2015.
“When you look through past Rev. Wright Award honorees, you can see some real change agents,” Weatherby-Flowers says. “They are not always the most flashy and most well-known people, but they are people who get things done like, for example, Anthony Timmons and Dr. [Floyd] Rose. These are people who are subtle yet powerful and are able to influence others to make change in the city of Madison.”
Nominations are due on May 27 and the award will be presented at the Madison Common Council meeting June 21.
For more information, contact Annie Weatherby-Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 266-6577 or visit the website.